By Bob Chambers
This is Chambers’ Corner ….. the occasional occupant of a corner of this blog, where Bob Chambers, an Evening Tribune photographer from 1957 to 1970, will present some of his photographs from that era …… Please comment on it, and ask for input from blog readers. This photograph is somewhat serious, most others will be less so.
Photographing A City Motto …………….
This photograph taken in 1968 (or maybe 1969) was my attempt to bring to life the City of Welland motto of that era — “Where Rails And Water Meet”. To take the picture I rode the New York Central Railroad swing bridge just north of the Broadway Avenue lift bridge, as both opened for a ship to pass.
I had preconceived that the rails and ship would line up and somehow look like they could could actually connect in some fashion. Well, just a couple of clicks on my Pentax and it worked. I didn’t have to try it again from another angle.
After this ran in the Tribune, a colleague chided me for being too much of a flag-waver for the city ….. he even envisioned the Chamber of Commerce writing the caption and driving me to the bridge, while city council cheered from the shore as I took the photo.
Looking back now to that period in Welland’s history …. I wasn’t flag waving, I was simply stating a fact. Rails and Water did meet in Welland then. The rails in this picture carried freight of three railroads to all points in North America. Every day. While the ships, like this “saltie,” travelled the world. Welland was connected. Just beyond the picture, in the shadow of that lift bridge, lay the Welland South Dock, or was it called the Union Carbide Dock? There trains came to the water’s edge and exchanged cargo with ships.
At that time six railroads served the city, and many days a total of a hundred or more freight cars were loaded or unloaded at numerous city industries. Yes, we were a huge rail city, and at the same time the namesake city of the Welland Canal, part of the greatest inland waterway in the world.
Me, a flag waver? I think not. I was simply a bearer of the truth. But as this picture was being taken, you could have almost heard the roar of huge earthmovers at work digging the new canal channel that would, in a few short years move the canal, not out of the city, but almost out of sight to the east side. Trains, would no longer meet the ships, but would sneak, unseen in a tunnel, underneath the new channel. And this rerouting of the rail lines will almost eliminate major traffic problems on our streets.
So, four years later, in 1972, Welland would essentially lose the ships, along with most of the trains, and the traffic tie-ups caused by both. Yet now, almost 50 years later (for those of us who remember) wouldn’t you actually recall those days of playing “bridge tag”, or “railway roulette”, as the “good old days”? Or were we just younger and ‘foolisher’?
I invite your comments.
(Chambers’ Corner is a recurring feature on the blog.)
By Joe Barkovich
I write on occasion of old photographs.
They are good to have because they help us reconnect with the past.
There are occasions I like to think of them as portals to another time. In the blink of an eye or through flashbacks framed with fondness they can transport us back to earlier chapters of our lives.
Many of us, I’m sure, have these old photographs in our homes.
They may not be readily accessible or easy to find. More often than not, they are kept in albums or perhaps in shoeboxes stored in a closet, or tucked away in a bookcase drawer.
They are brought out for special events. It might be a wedding anniversary, or during a discussion of family gatherings such as Christmas dinners of long ago or reunions prompted by someone’s return to the fold after years apart.
Some time, we come across these old photographs by accident or sheer coincidence. This is what happened in the case of a new acquisition of a decades old image.
The original photograph was part of an assortment of Welland High and Vocational School memorabilia on display two Saturdays ago at the bustling, that morning in particular, Welland market.
It stared at me, larger than life you might say. It was a big photograph, the kind you would expect to see in a trophy case or as part of a collection shown on a high school’s sports wall of fame.
The wording above the photograph says: Welland High and Vocational School Basketball Team. Group, District and C.O.S.S.A. Champions 1940-1941.
There are 10 people in this photograph. Nine are players, one is the coach.
Four players are seated in the front row, two on either side of the coach who is holding an inscribed basketball. A trophy is at his feet. The players sit with their arms folded just above their waists.
The second row shows five players. They are standing behind the others. There isn’t much difference in their height, although the boy at left and the one at right are a little taller than the three others. Maybe that is how the photographer from Healey Studios posed them.
The boy standing in the second row, the one at left, is my dad.
Everyone in this photograph is smiling. Well, sort of. Ferdinand Slevar, better known now simply as Ferd, has a grin on his face. The other guys are smiling, most of them big, happy smiles. And why not. They were young. They were the champs.
Thanks to Welland High former teachers Bob Muir and Ron Lemon who were at the memorabilia table at market that morning, a copy of this photograph is now part of our collection.They made arrangements with the owner for it to be copied and given to us. The owner is Fran David, niece of Howard Kernahan who is standing next to my dad. Thank you to Fran, too.
This becomes the second photograph showing my dad as part of a championship basketball team. The other is of a recreation league, Joe Miller’s Mission Mic Macs from about that same period in his life.
He was 16, maybe 17 at the time. Thin and slender. Narrow shoulders. I don’t know if he was a starter on those teams or as they used to say in those days. “a sub” because he isn’t one to talk much about that kind of stuff.
But it doesn’t matter, a picture is worth a thousand of words – you’ve heard that before – and now it joins the collection of some rather old photos we have kept. Some are still clean and crisp, others are yellowish brown, showing their age I suppose.
The faces in this picture are still clean and clear. They have been frozen in time that way – forever young, forever smiling, forever champions.
-From a column written in September 2008 and reprinted in my book, From A Reporter’s Notebook, from which the above is adapted.